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6 Ways To Raise Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

6 Ways To Raise Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

We all probably know people, at work or in our personal lives, who are great at listening and helping us feel more hopeful and optimistic. Like me, you probably know people who are masters at managing their emotions. You find yourself in awe, and wish you had the ability to control your emotions too. Your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings can determine your success and overall happiness in all aspects of your life. Raising your emotional intelligence has a direct and positive effect on your level of energy and consciousness.

Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how they affect the people around you. People who function at a high rate of emotional intelligence have the ability to adjust their behaviors and are more effective at recognizing and managing their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.  Ergo, emotional intelligence equals interpersonal effectiveness; the more effective you are with others, the more successful you’ll be.

The Six Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

If your desire is to raise your emotional intelligence, here are six pillars of emotional intelligence to incorporate into your life:

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  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Empathy
  3. Self-Regulation
  4. Motivation
  5. Social Skills
  6. Happiness

1. Self-Awareness

Serving as the core area of emotional intelligence, being able to identify how you feel throughout the day, as well as who you are, helps you make important life choices. One way to raise your emotional intelligence is to use present language to help focus more on the present moment. Put your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on paper. By doing this, you’re able to put things into perspective, which helps you become more aware of who you are, what you want and why. Learn to increase your emotional vocabulary by using it to describe your full range of emotions.

Knowing how to express your emotions can often help you manage them in a proper and healthy way. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the gift of silence and meditation. Reconnect with your inner self and watch your perspective and your life transform.

2. Empathy

Empathy is extremely powerful and essential to raising your emotional intelligence. Increasing your ability to empathize can help you get closer to others, gain their support when you need it, and potentially defuse high-charged conflicts in your professional and personal life. Empathy is recognized as the second-most important emotion to acquire, since by showing someone that you understand where they’re coming from, you’re able to gain their respect. Be aware and listen carefully to what they are telling you. You know you are becoming more empathetic when you’re able to decipher and recognize the feelings of others.

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3. Self-Regulation

All humans share the desire to have intimate relationships with a few trusted people. However, part of growing as a person involves acquiring new skills while experiencing new relationships. By learning to control and manage your emotions, especially your impulses, you are able to prepare yourself for emotional self-management.

People who self-regulate think before they act, have the ability to say no, and shift their thoughts to prevent their emotions from controlling them. They are self-aware enough to know their strengths, weaknesses, and are willing to look at themselves honestly. Emotionally intelligent people aim for assertiveness, appropriately sharing their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs with the right people at the right time as a means to let others know where they stand.

4. Motivation

Willing to defer immediate results to establish long-term success, emotionally intelligent people are generally characterized as motivated. People are often guided by their emotional knowledge, which results in a flawed impulsive decision. People who are emotionally intelligent, however, are excellent decision-makers, and they know when to trust their intuition.

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Susceptible to criticism, they take it well, and know when to use it to improve their performance. Emotionally intelligent people know when to stick and when to switch their emotional attachments. They are motivated to look at a problem and find a resolution in a calm and rational way. When it comes to their careers, motivation drives emotionally intelligent people to be more productive and passionate about succeeding.

5. Social Skills

Another way of raising your emotional intelligence is being able to easily talk and connect with others. Being socially responsible demonstrates that you really care about others and not just about your own personal gain. Individuals who focus on the development of others rather than their own, practice emotional intelligence as well as humility. Humility can be a wonderful quality to possess because it indicates to others that you’re able to take responsibility of your actions while still participating and being a team player. Having a high emotional intelligence gives you the social skills to manage the emotions of others too.

6. Happiness

Raising your emotional intelligence involves knowing when to be happy, sad, excited, anxious, or even vigilant. Unfortunately, very few people know how to manage their happiness as it is frequently associated with material goods or gifts they receive from others.

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Generally, people who possess high emotional intelligence are happy people. The really happy ones are those who always give. Happiness, for clarification, feels like a warm, steady glow harbored inside your body. Because happy people accomplish more tasks than those who are sad or depressed, it is important to note that the emotionally intelligent have the ability to control their mood to serve their purpose, motivating them to find more solutions to problems. Remember, it costs nothing to spread happiness, and what you receive in return is priceless.

In order to raise your emotional intelligence, it is essential that you try to incorporate these six pillars into your life. Not only will you no longer feel like a slave to your emotions, you’ll be able to create and maintain more meaningful and intimate relationships in your professional career and personal life.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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